August 9, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays right fielder Matt Joyce (20) scores a run against the Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 7-1. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Rays Notes: Prospect Injuries, Matt Joyce's Non-Injury, Nick Weglarz Released

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The injury bug: the one thing that can take down any team in baseball, no matter how talented. Has it already struck the Rays? Rays fans heard about three injuries to their teams’ position players on Sunday, and the Rays can ill-afford to have key players miss time. Luckily, though, all three injuries will have absolutely no impact whatsoever on the Rays to begin the season- two afflicted minor leaguers while the third really wasn’t much of an injury at all.

Two well-known Rays prospects are currently dealing with minor wrist soreness and it’s a funny twist of fate who they are: former number one overall pick Tim Beckham and the Rays’ current top prospect, Wil Myers. Beckham’s soreness is in his left wrist while Myers in his right, but both are expected to be back in action over the next few days. If Beckham shares just about anything else in common with Myers over the next few months, the Rays will be thrilled.

Also suffering an injury was outfielder Matt Joyce, but the series of events that transpired tells you exactly how severe the injury was. Joyce turned his ankle running before the Rays’ spring training game Sunday, and then he took batting practice, and then he played in the game and went 2 for 4. It really sounds like quite a debilitating injury. Then again, Joyce hit a go-ahead home run off of David Robertson on May 9th, 2012 but twisted his ankle in the process, so maybe we can’t be 100% sure. Joyce remained in that game before missing the Rays’ next 10 games. On the other hand, though, this is spring training and Joyce certainly would have been taken out if he was experiencing any pain. We can be pretty confident that Joyce is fine.

The Rays did make one transaction, releasing outfielder Nick Weglarz. Weglarz, 25, seemed like an interesting upside play for the Rays when he was signed, being a player who might be able to head over to first base and be a player who shows solid power to go along with great plate discipline but the former Indians top prospect is coming off a 140-58 strikeout to walk ratio in 2012 at Double-A, and the Rays must have concluded that injuries have sapped the ability he once had and made him not worth retaining. Weglarz’s lasting impact in the Rays organization will be his tweets about Wil Myers via his twitter account.

The AL East is very up in the air at this point with no teams head and shoulders above the pack as in years past. But according to The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, if one thing happens, the Rays will be a cinch to win the division.

The loss of James Shields should hurt some, but the keys here are the 2-4 starters: Jeremy HellicksonMatt Moore, and Alex Cobb. Manager Joe Maddon thinks they’re ready to take the next step and become 200-inning pitchers and consistent winners. If they do, with David Price at the head of the class, shut the lights out on the AL East, because the Rays will win it.

The Rays have always been defined by their starting pitching and this year is certainly no exception. If the Rays’ young starters can expedite their development and help the Rays somehow improve their rotation even with Shields gone, the Rays will have one scary rotation and the rest of the division won’t stand a chance.

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Tags: Matt Joyce Nick Weglarz Tampa Bay Rays Tim Beckham Wil Myers

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